Games to play in hotel hallways and surgery waiting rooms
My youngest had surgery on May 11th, which means my wife–Taylor–and I needed distractions and time-killers in the surgery waiting room and in the hallway at our hotel.
On the 10th, our youngest had to have a pre-surgery COVID test, so we drove to Milwaukee, got the test, screamed for a bit, and then went to our hotel.
We have found that the only way to get our youngest to sleep is to be out of sight, out of mind. She's only two, so that means reading lots of stories, singing lots of songs, putting her down, and then, spending our time in the hotel hallway until she falls asleep. We did the same thing with our oldest when he was young.
Parenting decisions aside, we always make sure to have games on hand for hotels.
That night, we crashed in the hall (pictured above with my wife's foot) and played some games.
We also knew that our daughter's surgery would last a couple hours, so we planned to have some games with us as a distraction.
The beautiful backdrop for the photos in this post is the carpet in the hallway outside of our room.
Synopsis: a 2-4 player game, set in where your goal is to win a certain number of rounds by knocking out the other players. Each player always has one card in hand and then draws one each turn. They choose which of the two cards they want to play, resolve it, and boom! The turn is over.
Why It's Great for Hallways and Waiting Rooms: Love Letter is about as small a game as it gets. My copy is in a tiny velvet bag that holds 16 sleeved cards, 12 red point cubes, and the rulebook. Setup takes almost no time at all, it doesn't require an intense amount of thinking, and who doesn't relish the opportunity to wildly guess the card in your opponent's hand, hoping to knock them out and collect that beautiful red point cube.
For two players, Love Letter is a quick back and forth deduction game that can be packed up in an instant if you have to dash off for some reason (crying child or surgeon visit in our case). The only thing we don't enjoy about the two-player version is that we feel the victory requirement of 7 rounds can sometimes feel like it drags on a bit too long, so we tend to shorten it to 5 rounds.
Our Experience: I managed to win Love Letter in 5 rounds (the rules say 7, but we played to 5), and it felt good. A few satisfying moments were when I played a Guard which lets you guess the card of another player. I usually guess that my wife is The King, and she was! Point Daniel.
Later in the game, Taylor could have knocked me out of the round if she had forced me to discard my card, but instead, she played The King, which forces players to swap cards. I immediately played The Prince, and forced her to discard The Princess, which meant I won.
We enjoyed a good back and forth with the game while we waited for our daughter to fall asleep in the hotel room, and then, we tucked away The Best Travel Game Ever, and spent some time watching Friday Night Lights, while we thought about what surgery would be like the next day.
Fun Fact: we also took Love Letter to the hospital with us when my wife was pregnant with our oldest.
Synopsis: Welcome To is a game for 1-100 players. Each player is a housing developer trying to design the perfect streets in your brand new subdivision. Welcome To is a Flip and Write game in that it uses cards to give the players choices, and then, they write down their choice on a sheet of paper. In this case, a player chooses a number and a corresponding action each round. The number is a house you're going to build, and the actions could be building parks or swimming pools, creating sections of houses with fences, increasing the value of your sections, among others.
House numbers must be sequential from left to right, and you can't repeat a number on a street, which means you had better be careful when planning your new development!
Why It's Great for Hallways and Waiting Rooms: Welcome To takes a little bit more time to setup, and it takes up a little more space because you have to shuffle the cards, create multiple stacks, and each player needs a sheet of paper and a pen to play, but that's okay. Grab a magazine, book, or small table, and you can get playing in no time at all. While there is some strategy and planning involved in the game, all you have to do each turn is pick a number and its action. That's it, so the turns go fast, and the game is over in about 30 minutes.
Our Experience: We played twice–once in the hotel hallway and once in the waiting room at the hospital, and I lost both times. For whatever reason, Taylor is quite good at Welcome To.
We sprawled out in the hall at the hotel after putting our daughter down, and after quietly shuffling the cards, played a quiet game together.
I had planned to score tons of points with all of my small, single-home fenced areas, but my wife absolutely crushed it with her streets, and I didn't stand a chance.
We played again the following morning after sending our daughter off to surgery and grabbing some coffee. My score was worse (distracted maybe?), but that's okay. We enjoyed getting another round in, and I built so many swimming pools in my development, but at the end of the day, that didn't matter because my wife's development was far superior.
Image Source: Stronghold Games
Synopsis: That's Pretty Clever is a roll and write game for 1-4 players, which means you roll dice and write things down on a sheet of paper. Players are trying to earn as many points as possible in different colors, and each color has its own rules:
Purple: Each number must be greater than the number before it. A 6 counts as a rest, so a 1 could be played after it.
Yellow: Cross off the rolled number and earn bonuses when you complete a row or column
Blue (plus white): Cross off the sum of Blue and White and earn bonuses for completed rows and columns
Green: Each number must be greater than or equal to the number in the box.
Orange: Just write down the number on the orange die; that's how many points you get.
Each player rolls all of the colors plus white, which is a wild, and gets to choose 3 dice to keep. The other dice go in the middle for the other players to pick from.
The game ends after 4, 5, or 6 rounds depending on the number of players.
Why It's Great for Hallways and Waiting Rooms: It's a small-box game (noticing a theme here?), and it's super simple to play by yourself or with others. The game is very simple to teach, quick to play, and loads of fun. It's probably one of my favorite roll and write games. For me, That's Pretty Clever isn't even about winning; it's about figuring out the best possible move and helping other players to do the same. Plus, it's fun when your actions create a cascading effect of bonuses that lead to tons of points...It basically gives you the same dopamine rush that Candy Crush does when all of those candies keep blowing up.
Our Experience: We forgot it at home, but we've played it many, many times before, and we love it every time we play.
Grab a few small-box games that you can throw in a backpack to kill some time when you need to. Playing games together can help ease those difficult moments and can keep your brain occupied. Plus, it's enjoyable to share gaming moments together.